Exhibition opened on Culture Night, Friday October 10th 2014, with a performance of 1000 Handshakes: Mapping the Microbes Between Us.
Video from the first performance/experiment here.
Control or Collaborate? In the exhibition, historical and contemporary objects will showcase the two faces of our relationship to bacteria: they are both a source of disease to be strictly controlled, and a crucial ‘collaborator’ in keeping our bodies functioning.
Researching the Microbiome: Our bodies contain 10 times more bacterial than human cells. This vast microbial community or ‘microbiome‘ is different for different body parts; hand, gut, ears, and so on. There’s increasing scientific interest in the impact of the microbiome on everything from autoimmune diseases and body weight, to cognitive and emotional states. Find out about how the bacterial landscape varies across your body, and about cutting edge research going on at the University of Copenhagen’s NNF Center for Basic Metabolic Research (CBMR).
Microbiome Selfies: Prof. Lapointe is a professor of biology and a bioartist who explores how scientific perspectives might affect the kind of creatures we think we are… In the Microbiome Selfie project he is sequencing his own microbiome and that of his wife, to generate ‘microbiome selfies’. A kind of self-portrait in microbial DNA; an investigation of how two people affect each other on the bacterial level. The exhibition will show new visualisations of these artistic experiments.
1000 Handshakes: In May 2014, Prof. Lapointe performed new work 1000 Handshakes at the University’s Health Faculty, shaking hands with over 1000 students, staff, patients, and members of the public. The performance was also a scientific experiment – a team of assistants sampled the bacteria on the artist’s hand every 50 handshakes, and CBMR scientists are currently testing the DNA of the samples to reveal how the community of microbes changed over time. Footage and objects from the performance will be on display and you can take part in version #2 on Culture Night. #1000handshakes
Information on the artist
Canadian researcher/artist Francois-Joseph Lapointe is head of the laboratory of Molecular Ecology and Evolution at Université de Montréal and full professor in the Department of Biological Sciences. He has more than 100 scientific publications in the areas of metagenomics, bioinformatics and population genetics. Alongside his scientific work, he also completed a PhD in dance in 2012 with a thesis entitled ‘Choreogenetics, or the art of making DNA dance’ (see examples of his work here). His recent bioart work involves sequencing his wife and his microbiome in order to generate changing metagenomic self-portraits.
Professor LaPointe’s residency at Medical Museion and the production of the exhibition has been supported by the Section for Science Communication and Section for Metabolic Genetics of the NNF Center for Basic Metabolic Research, Medical Museion, an SSHRC grant, and a DIVA Award from the Danish Arts Foundation and the Danish Arts Council.